It’s been a week since the finale, but I know you miss Dal-mi and the gang, so why not reminisce with me?
Episode 16 is the perfect sendoff for our beloved characters, and leaves few stones unturned when it comes to tying up loose ends. Were there emotional scenes? A ton! But fortunately, none of them were strictly heartbreaks. They were always laced with hope and inspiration, so I’m calling those scenes heartbreaks/”my heart is full” for this review.
This drama moved a lot of people, including me at certain points, so let’s relieve the very fitting conclusion.
Through a flashback, it’s revealed that Do-san and Dal-mi looked into the ransomware’s hostname (Apollon Artemis) and discovered it was the Shin Twins’ usernames while they worked at Cheong Myeong.
So Do-san, Dal-mi, and the gang were ready to set the reporter straight. Thank goodness! I don’t think I can handle another business crisis in the eleventh hour. But how dumb are the Shin twins for making the hostname the same as their usernames at Cheong Myeong?? Sometimes all the book-smarts in the world can’t hold a candle to common sense. Oh well, they got what was coming to them. I hope they do time. And I hope Morning Group is penalized as well.
Heartbreak/My heart is full scene 1: Won-deok thanks Do-san for creating NoonGil and he gives her a cactus he knitted to look like Dal-mi.
What a heart-warming scene! It’s good to see Cheong Myeong Corndog alive and kicking. And Won-deok happy and productive despite the loss of vision. Her, Dal-mi, Ah-hyun, and Do-san look like one big family sitting around that table.
My heart is full scene 2: Won-deok pops by Ji-pyeong’s place with some corndogs, and tells him not to “become lonelier”. That he can always come to her even when he’s doing well.
From here on out, I think Kim Sun-ho will always be known as Ji-pyeong, because of how well he played the character and the chemistry he has with both Suzy and Kim Hae-sook.
Ji-pyeong and Won-deok’s special bond stole the show, so this scene is especially emotional. I’m sad he doesn’t get a partner to share his life with, but he has Won-deok and there’s something to be said for found family.
While talking about how impossible it’d be to get the smart city bid, everyone at Cheong Myeong makes a promise to do something big if they win. Do-san’s promise is he’ll propose.
Smooooooth, Do-san! So smooth, Dal-mi malfunctions. I think we all know what’s going to happen, so I hope he knows her ring size and whether she likes princess or cushion-cut diamonds.
My heart is full scene 3: A start-up that pairs orphans who age out of the system with sponsors that’d help them become financially responsible passes across Ji-pyeong’s desk, and he actually wants to know more!
Awww, I love this for him! Giving back to the community can also help vanquish loneliness.
During a late night at the office, Do-san asks Dal-mi how far she wants to see Tarzan go, and she says enough for someone else not to die the way her father did. Enough for visually impaired people like her grandma to navigate the world safely.
Do-san confidently replies he’ll get Tarzan there in a few years, then tries to plant a kiss on her. Too bad the sound of Chul-san clearing his throat causes Dal-mi to shove him away. They thought they had the office to themselves, but they were wrong.
This is a funny, but illuminating scene. Where did Do-san pick up all these little moves? Cali? Maybe those three years weren’t for nought.
Ji-pyeong meets with the CEO of the company that wants to help orphans, and invests!
It’s also fun to note that the CEO is played by Yeo Jin-goo, the actor who voices Yeong-sil! What a cute little cameo. I’ve always been amazed that such a deep voice can come out of such a youthful face. He really brings some personality to Yeong-sil.
I also love the fact that Ji-pyeong opts to personally invest in the company. He’s going to be the “Won-deok” to some very fortunate orphans, and it warms my heart.
Do-san and Dal-mi submit Tarzan’s proposal where they run into Won Sang-soo and the Shin Twins.
Morning AI is still putting in a bid even though their engineers are being investigated by the police. Classy. The three brag about them probably only needing to pay a fine, which is crazy to me. I want them in white collar crime prison.
Cheong Myeong becomes one of the five finalists in the smart city bid!!
Yay! Do-san better look for a ring, Chul-san should get some clippers ready, and Yong-san and that one employee who said he’d buy everyone sports cars better get their wallets ready!
Ji-pyeong bumps into Dal-mi in the Sandbox elevators, and they go up to the roof for a chat. He tells her he’s not the Do-san from the letters, because he didn’t look for her for fifteen years, but the real Do-san went to her after reading the first letter.
Alright, Park Hye-ryun. We get it haha. I’m glad both of them can move on without feeling indebted toward one another.
Chairman Won does a Q&A at Sandbox, and laughably not many people show up, because they’ve heard of the ransomware attack. Since the topic is HR, In-jae takes the opportunity to ask him why he unfairly cast her out of Morning Group.
He says he thought it’d make her more obedient, which is funny because she didn’t seem to be rocking the proverbial boat. The chairman should just be honest and say he wanted a son to lead the company. Oh well, In-jae rubs it in his face that morning AI failed to get the smart city bid and quickly corrects him when he calls her by his last name.
It’s a satisfying scene, but I imagine it would’ve been even better if she’d gotten an actual character arc and interacted with Dal-mi outside of a business setting. In fact, she should’ve been at Cheong Myeong Corndog’s grand opening with the rest of the family since she’s proud to be a Seo now.
My heart is full scene 4: Do-san, Yong-san, and Chul-san say goodbye to the original Samsan Tech office and wish the newbies moving in good luck with their business.
Did anyone notice the three boys were wearing the RBG colors just like Do-san and the others once upon a time? I’m so proud of them. They’ve come a long way and I feel like I’ve been there for every step of the journey. Seeing them tear up while reaffirming their love and friendship is cathartic and sweet.
When Yong-san asks where the Samsan Tech sign is, the newbies tell him a man came by and took it. We soon find out that man is Do-san’s dad. He hangs it up on a wall at home to remind himself to be kind to his son.
Heartbreak/My heart is full scene 5: The prodigal daughter returns and In-jae finally goes to see Won-deok. She tells the rest of the Seo women she’s changed her last name back to Seo, and even shows them the legal document.
It’s all warm and fuzzy until Won-deok closes her eyes and envisions a young In-jae and Dal-mi eating chicken with Ah-hyun and her deceased son. Whoa. Is someone cutting onions? I love that we get to see Seo Cheong-myeong again, because he was the catalyst for everything. And even though Kim Joo-hun was only in one full episode, he left a lasting impression.
At the beginning of the drama, Dal-mi bet In-jae 10,000 won that she’d be more successful than her in three years. In-jae gives her the money now, stating that if Cheong Myeong expands, Dal-mi will be more successful than her.
Hmm…this is a bit premature for me (among some other things), but I’ll let it slide. It’s a feel-good show, and it’s a nice moment between the two sisters.
In-jae goes to Director Yoon to ask her to recommend investors on behalf of Cheong Myeong. But Director Yoon tells her no, because she wants to invest in them herself!
I had a feeling this would happen. She’s wanted to support the girls whose father inspired Sandbox since the beginning.
The next scene is Director Yoon passing the expansion project to a reluctant Ji-pyeong. He will once again be guiding Dal-mi and the gang.
Ji-pyeong asks Do-san privately if he’s willing to accept the investment, because he basically has to eat his words from the beginning of the show. Do-san accepts and they shake on it.
Yay! It’s good to see them on the same page and not punching each other.
Dal-mi and Do-san go to her grandmother’s church to pray for the smart city bid.
When they walk out of it, they see a rainbow and we get some flirting and a cute kiss. But the thing that stands out the most about this scene is Dal-mi’s line about praying before making things happen. To me, it describes hope and action, and it’s a lovely sentiment that’s in line with the drama, tonally.
Dal-mi soon gives her Tarzan pitch to DQ Group, and we get a flash-forward to her and Do-san putting up two new post-its on the wall at Sandbox.
Hers says “I want to change the world” and his says “I want a better future”. They smile at each other and walk out hand-in-hand.
The post credits scene is set in 2020 and a trail of pictures tell us everything we need to know. Cheong Myeong gets the smart city bid, Chul-san shaves his head, Do-san proposes to and marries Dal-mi. And the company becomes a unicorn start-up like Do-san wishes. It’s an airy, hopeful ending for an airy, hopeful drama like Start-Up.
No drama is perfect, so there were some things I thought could’ve been handled better like Won-deok’s lie and the familial relationships, and even the bet Dal-mi made with In-jae at the beginning. But the good greatly outweighed the bad. For instance, I loved these characters. Most of them felt real and three-dimensional, so when things happened to them I was affected, because I’d made an emotional investment. My favorites were Ji-pyeong and Won-deok, but I have a soft spot for Do-san and Chul-san. Some other things I liked about this drama were the heartfelt acting and beautiful cinematography. You don’t come across something this inspiring every day, so I was happy to go on this journey. And I even came out of it with some business knowledge. Hmm…maybe I should pray and make something happen.